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Grief: seven signals, seven stages

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Officially Starfleet’s latest mass casualties are listed as being victims a massive radiation anomaly that killed over ninety percent of the active duty members bordering the edge of the Klingon empire and the beta quadrant.

Unofficially Spock can vividly recall the entity that was Control methodically picking off every organic being it came across. It is one of many memories he wished to forget but not the chief among them. That would be reserved for her and the moment he was left behind. He does not wish to dwell on it but that particular memory plays in his mind on an endless loop.

Michael

—-

The rush recruitments had given new life and weight to the fleet. New officer positions become available and Spock had a prime choice of assignments. With Number One off scouting, he was quick to take her place under Pike’s command as new XO. Spock was pleased with the development. However he did not appreciate going in for medical eval.

Even now he sat stiffly on the bio-bed with his back rigid and his eyes fixed to the door. His tunic sat on the chair next to him in an inviting temptation of folded, blue warmth. The room was far too cold for him to be in nothing more than his undershirt and underwear.

Thankfully the doctor arrives none too soon with his results as he strode in through the door. Dr. M’Benga was a man who wore his thoughts clearly across his face. As he gazed over his data PADD at Spock his mouth spread into a bright, toothy smile. His skin was lighter than Michael’s but not by much, more yellow in its hue than the red undertone his sister bore.

He crossed the room and pulled a stylus from the tablet’s back to sign his orders.“ You’ll be happy to know you are fit for duty, Lieutenant Commander.”

Spock couldn’t say for sure what he felt about the news. Relief? Numb? The new title derived a small measure of pride. He was glad to have obtained the new grade but he did not plan on traditionally celebrating the achievement.

Spock nodded and moved to retrieve his tunic when the doctor hummed in disapproval. “ Not so fast. I’m worried about this.”

His thin finger tapped on the tablet twice and the information was projected on the view screen on the wall behind the biobed. An image of Spock’s body interior was projected before them in a burst of buzzing color. The heat escaping his skin gives his image a hazy aura of white. Everything was shades of red and orange with the exception of an ugly gash of blue. It hung over his side, right above his heart like a bruise. Small blots along the back of his skull mirror the gash in a twin image.

The doctor held his hand in front of himself and slowly widened his fingers to enlarge the image. “ Last we scanned you, these weren’t present.” M’Benga twisted his wrist and highlighted the oblong spots onscreen. Spock swallowed. “ Any idea what may have happened here?”

Thoughts of his bond with Michael immediately came to mind but he was reluctant to divulge anything. It could lead to more questions and questions could lead to attention towards Discovery. And for the record, Discovery no longer existed. Off the record, it was still very much serving its last and final mission.

“ I could only speculate as to what they could be.” Spock answered finally. His throat felt uncomfortably tight.

M’Benga frowned and skipped to the next section over his heart. “ The soft tissues in these areas have depressed circulation and nerve activity. Do you have any family history of something like this happening? I don’t want to let something go undiagnosed and end up having whatever this is spread and you crashing in our OR for something I could have prevented.”

Spock pursed his lips and pulled his tunic over his head. He spoke again to the doctor as he put his arms through his sleeve. “ You cannot prevent heartbreak, Dr.M’Benga.”

The doctor blinked at the answer, unsure of how he should reply. A Vulcan speaking of emotions, let alone heartache, was peculiar. To conclude that his emotional distress had physically manifested itself as wounds within him was another matter the doctor looked to be chewing over. “ Well, if that’s all it is, I’m sure it will work itself out.”

When he caught Spock’s unconvinced face and added. “ With some counseling and or therapy of course. Your choice.”

He set the stylus to the PADD and signed off. Spock’s comm chimes with the set of doctor’s orders officially transcribing themselves onto his dossier. “ This will help. We need everyone at their best. After the anomaly we have a lot of rebuilding to do.”

Spock nodded in agreement but still remained uncertain. How was there ever getting over what had to happen to her.

Later in his quarters Spock sat at his personal comm. His tea sat beside it, now too cool to find appealing. He had been searching for a counselor so he could complete the doctors posthaste. The sooner he meet with them, the sooner he could finish. Doctors were never Spock’s favorite to interact with. The thought of such a person whose job it was to pry and unlock private, emotional matters made finding a psychiatrist all the more taxing.

He soon found himself wavering and slipping over into his data files. The red crystal in his hand glinted in the light between his fingers, tempting him. He saw no need to resist it any longer. He loaded it in and tapped his comm’s screen to play the last action.

Michael’s face stared back at him from the screen’s projection. Her full mouth was a show of Vulcan while her eyes smiled brightly at the camera. Her hair moved as she tilted her head and sighed thoughtfully through her nose.

“ I miss you so much.”

Her voice. It had been months since he had heard it outside of his head.

Spock paused the message to look at her. He hasn’t found it any easier to reconcile what he feels with what he knows. The woman on the view screen isn’t alive on the other side. She isn’t alive anywhere in this world; at this time. She’s just gone. But her he’s the same. He’s past her time, beyond her reach.

His eyes traces the fine lines around her face and wonder if anything has changed about her. Does she have more wrinkles now in response to passing through the future? Does she still smile as she does here on the recording?

Spock grit his teeth and swallowed the best he could as he held fast to kolinar and repressed the urge to grieve openly. He wondered if she has had to do the same, fighting back tears and wailing and beating her fists against the wall because she wants so badly what she can’t have. What they never had.

His knuckles cracked as his fist tighten and he takes a slow breath to relax. Being this tense wouldn’t do anyone any good but it’s something he fights, whether passively or aggressively, to see managed.

Just the thought of a shuttle makes his adrenaline release until he’s pale and dry mouthed with hidden panic. If he closes his eyes, he’s back aboard the Galileo trying everything to make it operable. He had given the task his all and was found lacking.

At night he can see Michael returning on top of the ruined ships they perched upon in a shock of bright red.  Her wings are still extended as she beckons him to follow her but-

He coughed. “ Computer, resume message.” he said hoarsely.

Resuming message 10849

Michael stared back at the camera, still beaming brightly. Her happiness almost seemed smug as he gazed over her features. He could hardly blame her then and still won’t now. She had just been informed of her promotion from Lieutenant Commander to Commander. The message was performed to pass along the news as well as to invite Spock to her wedding down. Cadets weren’t normally in attendance of such activities but with her new rank and familial position she thought he might be able to go.

“ If your CO grants you permission to travel I plan to hold the ceremony on the lunar colony’s nexus complex. Otherwise I don’t mind having it at an establishment nearby the academy grounds.” she told him with a slight incline of her head. Such a subtle movement for her.

Spock was use to her body language holding a conversation at the same time as her mouth. Maybe her body’s language was quiet because for once it actually agreed with her. She had done well for herself at Starfleet, despite her worry. He had told her as much. Michael gave another tilt of her head, unaware of his observations and gave a muted smile at the comm screen. “ I am flexible on location so long as it gains your attendance.”

His heart stuttered over the multiple meanings she wove into her words. All the things they longed for and grew hungry with. Afternoon naps under unmade sheets, walks along the Bay Bridge and prolonged dinners off campus with no one to suspect anything was amiss. Even if she had craved something different, the events described were what they did with frequent repetition.

“ Please notify me as soon as possible to let me know of your travel status.” she pressed. Spock could feel his neck tick with the motion to nod affirmatively as she formed a ta’al with her hands in front of the screen. She never could perform it with ease and he can see her discomfort with having to form it without his hand to guide hers. “ Live long and prosper, brother.”

End Message